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 Once the shrieking reaches dog whistle level, it’s difficult to teach concepts such as compassion; that we are all God’s creatures, all share this earth and have no more right to live than the poor insect threatening to feast upon the brains of little girls. The irrational fear has cut short meals on the patio and sent Holly into hysterics being “trapped in the car with a blood sucking mosquito”. Camping ? Not with these two.

"Really, MJ, it's THIS big !"

I even tried reverse scare tactics. While playing dolls, their room had to be evacuated due to a child-eating spider sighting. Point of reference: with Hurricane Irene, they were willing to take their chances while finishing a much-needed wardrobe change. I pointed out that I recently saw a spider in the kitchen/great room, and there are bugs all over the yard, so the only option was to work on math practice sheets. They actually agreed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan. But I have long tolerated spiders (they do the favor of killing other nasties) and anything garden-friendly. I set out over the summer to catch a few and let them crawl on me, then, hopefully onto one of the girls. Some progress was made with caterpillars and moths. I know nothing about entomology, but the girls don’t know that. So moths are secret, camouflaged butterflies. And dragonflies help faeries flit about the forest. Ladybugs? Fancy beetles all dressed up to go to a ball. We have made up some elaborate backstories, usually effective enough to distract while the critter makes its escape. Shameless.

 I saw the first glimmer of hope this morning when Nola calmly came out of the bathroom and said she could not brush her teeth because the noise from the Spin Brush might scare the itsy bitsy spider. Clearly an attempt to not be in the same room with the spider, but with major improvement. Not a single squeal.

My dilemma as Halloween approaches is this: how am I going to resist the temptation of immature pranks such as fake spiders in lunch boxes and shoes knowing it’s going to undo the progress we’ve made?

Ah, it’ll totally be worth it.

I can already feel the sugar high